Er­rors doom PawSox

Boles faces bal­anc­ing act when team has to ac­com­mo­date re­hab­bing play­ers

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PAW­TUCKET – When Red Sox re­hab­bers like Dustin Pe­droia walk into the PawSox club­house, they do so with a set-in-stone plan al­ready in place. Sounds like smooth sail­ing for man­ager Kevin Boles and his coach­ing staff, no?

“They’re go­ing to dic­tate what hap­pens, but you also have to make an in-game ad­just­ment,” said Boles prior to Paw­tucket com­mit­ting four er­rors and leav­ing the bases loaded in the bot­tom of the ninth in­ning of a 5-4 loss to Buf­falo on Wed­nes­day.

Delv­ing fur­ther, Boles ref­er­enced a re­hab start made by David Price nearly one year ago in Buf­falo. The left-han­der needed 69 pitches to get through two in­nings. He might have been sched­uled to throw 85-90 pitches, but in some in­stances, you have to take a step back and use com­mon sense.

Price didn’t take the mound for the third in­ning, a de­ci­sion that be­gan with a sim­ple ob­ser­va­tion by the per­son who’s on the ground floor.

“Throw­ing him back out there and ex­tend­ing this, is that go­ing to be pro­duc­tive or coun­ter­pro­duc­tive?” Boles said. “With re­hab­bers, you al­ways rather err on the side of cau­tion. If there’s some­thing you don’t like, you can al­ways make a sug­ges­tion.”

That ap­peared to be the case on Tues­day night when the PawSox were rained out. The team waited un­til 7 p.m. be­fore of­fi­cially post­pon­ing the game, yet Pe­droia was nowhere to be found when the club­house was made avail­able to the me­dia. A wet field and a player who’s com­ing back from knee surgery was a mix­ture that Bos­ton clearly wanted no part of, hence it wouldn’t have come as a shocker to learn that Pe­droia was told that then risk far out­weighed the re­ward well in ad­vance of the an­nounced post­pone­ment.

“You’re go­ing ask to give your opin­ion be­cause you’re there with the player,” Boles said. “All you can do is paint a pic­ture so they can ul­ti­mately make a judg­ment, but hope­fully they trust what your eyes say.”

When­ever a Pe­droia or a Price comes to Paw­tucket, they im­me­di­ately gain a best friend in Boles.

“The big­gest thing is talk­ing with th­ese play­ers and mak­ing sure you’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them,” Boles said. “You tell them be­fore they start that, ‘Look, I’m go­ing to be ask­ing you a lot about you’re feel­ing. It’s not meant to an­noy you. It’s about stay­ing on top of where you’re at.’ After pregame work­outs, you ask. Dur­ing the game, you ask.”

The start­ing pitcher who’s mak­ing a re­hab start rep­re­sents the eas­i­est player to man­age be­cause he can go through his nor­mal pregame rit­ual be­fore tak­ing the mound. A po­si­tion player can take bat­ting prac­tice and stay loose by hit­ting in the cage be­fore hit­ting the field roughly 20 min­utes be­fore first pitch so he can stretch.

The trick­i­est group of re­hab­bers to man­age are re­liev­ers. Gen­er­ally, they’ll throw one in­ning and be­tween 20-25 pitches. There is a caveat that has Boles on alert even be­fore some­one like Tyler Thorn­burg takes the mound.

“They don’t have all the time in the world to pre­pare un­less they know they’re com­ing at the very end of the game,” Boles said.

As was the case with Thorn­burg on Mon­day night and with Craig Kim­brel when he made an ap­pear­ance with the PawSox two sum­mers ago, a re­hab­bing re­liever’s out­ing can go awry in a hurry. When that hap­pens, there’s no rea­son to flirt with dan­ger. For Boles, it’s all about cut­ting bait like what hap­pened when Thorn­burg was lifted after fac­ing just four Buf­falo hit­ters.

With re­hab­bers, the type of mi­nor-league num­bers they put up be­fore get­ting ac­ti­vated is a sec­ondary con­cern. The most im­por­tant ques­tion that Boles has to an­swer is whether he feels they’re ready to help the par­ent club.

“There comes a point where you’re build­ing them up stamina-wise and get­ting them used to be­ing on their feet as long as they have to be out there. What we try to do is eval­u­ate with our own eyes and de­pend­ing on the in­jury, are they fa­vor­ing it? It’s very sim­ple,” Boles said. “It’s not so much per­for­mance-re­lated. It’s about get­ting them healthy and hope that their tim­ing is on by the time they’re ready to go back up.” ***

It was an in­ter­est­ing sev­enth in­ning for hard-throw­ing PawSox re­liever Ty But­trey on Wed­nes­day. He struck out the side and pitched around two er­rors and a walk that fos­tered a first-and-third jam with two down. But­trey es­caped by strik­ing out Buf­falo No. 3 hit­ter Rowdy Tellez, who al­ready had two hits by that point. The pun­chout of Tellez kept the game tied at 4-4.

“He got out of what could have been a par­tic­u­larly dam­ag­ing in­ning. He has swingand-miss ca­pa­bil­ity with the stuff that he has. With him, it’s about try­ing to stay away from pitch­ing in high-stress in­nings all the time,” Boles said.

But­trey has been in­volved in more than his fair share of tight spots this sea­son – he’s al­lowed baserun­ners to reach in eight of his 12 out­ings. Boles says that when trou­ble arises, it’s im­por­tant for But­trey to trust his mid 90s fast­ball and not let the game speed up un­nec­es­sar­ily. Of the last 43 outs that But­trey has recorded, 25 have come via strike­out.

“When those mo­ments hap­pen, it’s nat­u­ral that the game speeds up on you a little bit,” said But­trey, who was added to Bos­ton’s 40man ros­ter last win­ter. “When the run­ner got to sec­ond base (on Wed­nes­day), I fo­cused on ex­e­cut­ing my pitches in­stead of rush­ing my de­liv­ery and it paid off.”

***

EX­TRA BASES: Sam Travis and Mike Ohlman belted solo home runs for the PawSox, but the Bisons pushed across the goa­head in the ninth on a sac­ri­fice fly that was aided by a throw­ing er­ror from the catcher Ohlman. Paw­tucket loaded the bases in the bot­tom of the ninth but Rus­ney Castillo’s two-out fly ball died just be­fore the warn­ing track in cen­ter field. … The home run was the first for Travis since April 16 and ob­vi­ously his first since com­ing off the dis­abled list last Satur­day. The blast cleared ev­ery­thing in left field. … William Cuevas over­came a three-run first in­ning to pro­vide six in­nings of four-run ball with four strike­outs. … Fer­nando Ro­driguez Jr. made his re­turn from the dis­abled list with a score­less eighth in­ning while Ryan Brasier al­lowed an un­earned run in the top of the ninth. … De­spite the four er­rors, the PawSox al­lowed just one un­earned run. Ohlman was wild with two throws while short­stop Tzu-Wei Lin was off with a throw and also booted a ball. “We need to care of the base­ball. We’re not look­ing for per­fec­tion, but that’s not what we’re look­ing for,” Boles said. … Wed­nes­day’s at­ten­dance was 4,678. … The PawSox will en­joy an off day on Thurs­day be­fore hit­ting the road for a three-game se­ries in Rochester that be­gins Fri­day. The prob­a­ble pitch­ers are Chandler Shep­herd (2-2, 4.75) on Fri­day, Justin Ha­ley on Satur­day (1-4, 3.74), and Mar­cus Walden (0-1, 7.50) on Sun­day. … Noth­ing is con­firmed, but all signs point to right-handed re­liever Austin Mad­dox be­gin­ning a re­hab as­sign­ment with the PawSox this week­end. Mad­dox (shoul­der) has been on the dis­abled list since spring train­ing. Last year, he ap­peared in 27 games for Paw­tucket and 13 games for Bos­ton.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

PawSox catcher Mike Ohlman con­nected on a solo home run in the third in­ning to help the PawSox grab a one-run lead Wed­nes­day morn­ing. Buf­falo came back to win the game, 5-4, at McCoy.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Paw­tucket start­ing pitcher William Cuevas al­lowed four runs in six in­nings in the PawSox’ 5-4 de­feat to Buf­falo Wed­nes­day morn­ing at McCoy Sta­dium.

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